Photo by: Eric Gay/AP
By: Scripps National
WASHINGTON — Republicans in the House of Representatives blocked a Democrat attempt to pass larger direct payments to Americans, according to multiple reports, as the status of the $900 billion COVID relief package remains uncertain.
After months of negotiations, Congress agreed on and passed nearly a trillion dollars in relief aid Monday. The package includes up to $600 payments to individuals, in addition to supplemental jobless benefits, help for small businesses and a moratorium on evictions.
The relief package was also attached to the overall $1.4 trillion government funding bill, which included federal spending and priorities for the next fiscal year across all departments and agencies.
President Donald Trump, who had not personally been involved in the negotiations but rather had surrogates from the administration participate, tweeted a video Tuesday in which he indicated he may not sign the bill and called for larger checks to Americans, around $2,000. The bill has not been signed yet.
Democrats supported the president’s call, and moved quickly to increase the direct payments to $2,000 in order to secure the president’s signature and pass the relief package into law.
The House tried to pass the larger payments addendum during a pro forma session, which is a brief meeting of the chamber where typically only a few members attend. Democrats had hoped to approve the measure by unanimous consent. That did not happen, according to The Hill and CNBC.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sought to pass the measure, while Representative Rob Wittman wanted to bring up a competing measure, according to The Hill. The representative presiding over the session Thursday morning shot down both requests, saying that according to guidelines, legislation cannot be considered by unanimous consent unless there is the approval of bipartisan leadership.
Thanks to extensions, the federal government is funded through Sunday night. However, if the funding bill with the COVID relief package included is not signed by the president before Sunday night, it could mean a government shutdown on Monday.
President and First Lady Trump are now at their Mar-a-Lago resort for Christmas.
Reposted with permission from WCPO 9 Cincinnati.